On Monday (August 1), Chinese media commentator Hu Xijin called on others to “pray” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of her trip to Taiwan.
Xijin, who is affiliated with Chinese state media, did not include a direct threat but rather a message asking for prayer for Pelosi; so she would have a “safe trip.”
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan has sparked a wave of concern among White House officials, considering China views Taiwan as part of its territory, though the island nation maintains it is self-governed.
After tweeting about Pelosi’s planned trip for days, Xijin tweeted: “Let her go to Taiwan. But pray before departure: wish herself a safe journey and wish herself not be defined by history as a sinner who starts a spiral of escalation process expanding military frictions to a large-scale war in the Taiwan Strait.”
Later, Xijin tweeted, “Based on what I know, in response to Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, Beijing has formulated a series of countermeasures, including military actions,” making his earlier calls for prayer even more sinister.
In earlier tweets, the commentator warned China would carry out”severe punishment,” saying on Friday (July 29) that U.S. fighter jets escorting Pelosi’s plane to Taiwan would be considered an “invasion.”
Pelosi, who has already started her trip to Asia, released an itinerary that included Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea as stops but excluded Taiwan.
According to reports from Taiwan’s local news, the country’s defense officials have canceled some soldiers’ leave “to immediately prepare” for Pelosi’s trip.